Ford won’t say if new Mustang runs Android

The 2024 Ford Mustang was announced this week.
The 2024 Ford Mustang is virtually the same on the outside, but the software has lit up. | Image: Ford

Ford announced the 2024 Mustang yesterday – possibly the last gas-powered one? – and while the vehicle is very similar in design and shape to the last version, the operating system appears to be all new, with crisp new graphics and a “fighter jet-inspired digital cockpit”.

It’s so new, apparently, that the company won’t tell us what software it’s running on.

On paper, the 2024 Ford Mustang’s 13.2-inch center touchscreen runs on Sync 4, Ford’s operating system that also powers its current lineup, including the F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach- E. But the reveal videos appear to show a user interface that looks entirely different from any Sync 4-equipped vehicle we’ve seen before.

Part of that may be related to the inclusion of 3D graphics powered by video game maker Epic’s Unreal Engine. This follows a trend in the automotive industry to tap into the world of photorealistic video game design to bring sharper graphics and more advanced UX to passenger vehicles. Other automakers using the Unreal Engine include GMC’s Hummer EV and Volvo’s upcoming line of electric cars.

The 2024 Ford Mustang has a new screen.
Picture: Ford
The new fighter jet-inspired digital cockpit appears to be running much-improved software, but from whom?

“We take advantage of every pixel,” Craig Sandvig, Ford Mustang Interaction Design Manager, said in a statement. “We can get creative with displaying the necessary driving information and giving the driver control of color selection, classic Mustang gauges or even a ‘quiet’ screen where only minimal detail is displayed.”

But if there’s more going on under the surface of the Mustang’s new UX, Ford won’t tell. We asked the company directly: Does the new Mustang run on Android?

“We will have more to share about our SYNC 4/HMI technology between now and market availability,” Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz replied in an email, using the acronym for “interface. man-machine”.

He added, “That’s kinda cute, isn’t it?”

Ford uses Unreal Engine graphics.
The Mustang’s graphics will be powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine.

You might recall that Ford is revamping its entire software strategy around Android, with plans to ship the first Google-powered vehicles in 2023, which is the same year the new 2024 Ford Mustang will appear on dealer lots. Interesting timing!

There are a number of other interesting software choices made in the seventh generation of Ford’s legendary pony car. There is an option to switch the gauge cluster to a retro display inspired by the Fox Body Mustang of the late 1980s and early 1990s. At night, it even lights up with a green glow. It’s pretty cute.

There is also a “Remote Rev” feature that allows vehicle owners to rev their Mustang’s V-8 engines remotely using a key fob. Ford filed a patent for it a few months ago, but we didn’t expect it to end up in a production model so soon, so that’s great too.

But we really wonder about the software capabilities and what really underpins the Mustang’s new digitally enhanced look. Ford said it will eventually have “millions” of Android-powered vehicles on the road, but hasn’t given details on exactly what it will look like yet. Will they run Google’s native Android Automotive software, like the new Volvo and Polestar vehicles? Or will it be a version of Sync running on Android? Some sort of mix of the two?

The 2024 Mustang may hold the answers to our questions.

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